affordable parties http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/8082/all en-US Thanksgiving: 3 Ways (This Thanksgiving We're Going to Party Like It's 1621) http://www.wisebread.com/thanksgiving-3-ways-this-thanksgiving-were-going-to-party-like-its-1621 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/thanksgiving-3-ways-this-thanksgiving-were-going-to-party-like-its-1621" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3279186809_98ae80d61e.jpg" alt="pilgrims" title="pilgrims" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday. I prefer it to the December holidays, New Years, and even my birthday. I prefer it because it is one of the only holidays that have not succumbed to commercialization and become a special day for candy and home decor companies to push their wares. Even though it's now a secular holiday, after three centuries, Thanksgiving is still a celebration that's centered on being a generous, grateful, and compassionate human being.</p> <p>A lot of Thanksgivings are about family dysfunction and weird, terrible food involving aspic and marshmallow topping.</p> <p>That is not how I roll.</p> <p>I'm celebrating Thanksgiving three times this year. (Which really isn't that weird considering Florida, Texas and Virginia all had Thanksgiving celebrations before the Plymouth Colony made it a yearly holiday in 1621.) And really, wouldn't this country be better off if we focused more attention on harvest festivals that are about being thankful for what we already have and not holidays that center on deep discounts at the mall? In the spirit of the Plymouth colonists' and Wampanoag Confederacy's first dinner, I'm going to follow their example on what makes a good party.</p> <p>In addition to wild turkey and a variety of winter vegetables, the guests at the first Plymouth Thanksgiving also enjoyed swan, venison and seal. Taking a cue from what is surely the <a href="http://www.plimoth.org/discover/thanksgiving/plenty.php">ultimate pot luck dinner</a>, I hosted a Thanksgiving pot luck for my Chowhounds foodies group, on November 15th, before everyone went home for the real deal. Last year's foodies party was so epic that I ended up with 40 pounds of leftovers, including four untouched pumpkin pies and two turkey carcasses that I turned into five gallons of turkey and rice soup. It was enough to cater three Thanksgiving Redux parties, which was tiresome, but delicious.</p> <p>Although I managed to successfully entertain fifty guests in my 1000 square foot house, we almost immediately ran out of protein. I thought that two twenty-pound turkeys would be enough for all the carnivores to have a decent serving of white or dark meat. What I didn't count on was how much the birds would shrink during cooking.</p> <p>Instead of spending hours basting and fretting over the oven, I delegated the turkey preparation to the neighborhood bodega that is famous for its Armenian-style rotisserie chicken. For $20 they agreed to rotisserie my two turkeys. The roasting was perfect. The birds were succulent and juicy with dark brown, crackly skin that melted in your mouth...but at half their original mass.</p> <p>This year I'm planning a little better, first by asking all my guests to bring some Tupperware for leftovers, so I don't have so much surplus. In addition to turkeys (that will be rotisserie cooked again), I'm also serving a Honey Baked Ham purchased with an expired $50 ham gift certificate from 1997 that my mom found stuck to the back of her kitchen junk drawer. (Thanks to an awesome law in California, gift certificates have no expiration, a legal loophole that my mother can't exploit in Arizona.) Now if only I can get other people to bring some eel and lobster as alternate main courses...</p> <h2>Strays Party</h2> <p>My actual Thanksgiving dinner will be an all-day event I call the Strays Party. Up until two years ago, I hosted a Strays Party where I would start cooking at 10 in the morning and wouldn't stop until 10 at night. In the fabulous <a href="http://www.history.com/content/thanksgiving/the-first-thanksgiving">Wampanoag Indian tradition</a> of snacking all day, people who were alone for the holiday could show up, eat and leave whenever they wanted. (Each year I also pick up a number of friends who eat at my house to subsidize what they know will be a disastrous meal cooked by mom. At least they know they'll eat well at least once that day.) The Strays Party is super fun, because I never know who is going to show up when, so every hour it's like a different party with different guests. Over the years my Strays menu got more and more elaborate and byzantine. I made elk meatloaf sandwiches on focaccia. I made Ovaltine gelato. I made Turducken.</p> <h2>Thanksgiving Breakfast</h2> <p>Two years ago I wised up &mdash; I realized that the thing my friends were dying to eat every year wasn't my Thanksgiving dinner, it was my Thanksgiving <strong>breakfast</strong> which consists of baked curried fruit salad and Swedish pancakes topped with my homemade cranberry preserve and creme fraiche. So, for the past two years, I've still had a Strays Party but only served the pancakes with different toppings all day. Let me just say that my kitchen stays much cleaner with all-day Thanksgiving Breakfast and my friends are still excited to come over.</p> <h2>Thanksgiving Redux</h2> <p>During the first week of December I am going to host Thanksgiving Redux. This is a potluck dinner where everyone brings his or her Thanksgiving leftovers to share. This a great way to squeeze in one more dinner with friends before everyone's year end schedule gets too crazy, without spending any money on food.</p> <p>(Author's Note: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squanto">Squanto</a> and Samoset were the two Native Americans who helped the Pilgrims survive after the colony nearly perished from the harsh New England winter. They taught the newly minted Americans how to fish for eel, fertilize their crops and grow corn. The 1621 Thanksgiving was a celebration of the colony's first successful harvest. In honor of Squanto's and Somoset's generosity, I am going to raffle off local honey and homemade organic preserves at this year's Thanksgiving Redux as a fundraiser for <a href="http://www.heifer.org/site/c.edJRKQNiFiG/b.3978597/?msource=pog">Heifer International</a> that will provide ten communities in Tanzania with honeybees and specialized education in resource management and beekeeping.)</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by Max Wong, who blogs at <a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/">My Roman Apartment</a>. Read more by Max:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/why-100k/">Why 100k?</a></li> <li><a href="http://thescreentrade.blogspot.com/2008/01/striking-out-in-new-year.html">Striking Out in the New Year</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/gadzukes-10-ways-to-use-up-your-zucchini-bounty">Gadzukes! 10 Ways to Use Up Your Zucchini Bounty</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thanksgiving-3-ways-this-thanksgiving-were-going-to-party-like-its-1621">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-potluck-parties-that-help-you-share-the-wealth">5 Potluck Parties That Help You Share the Wealth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/in-times-like-these-separate-the-want-from-the-need">In times like these, separate the want from the need.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-rich-youd-be-if-you-stopped-drinking">Here&#039;s How Rich You&#039;d Be If You Stopped Drinking</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-restaurant-apps-hurt-your-wallet">5 Ways Restaurant Apps Hurt Your Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-water-can-save-you-977-a-year">How Water Can Save You $977 a Year</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Food and Drink affordable parties Thanksgiving Thu, 19 Nov 2009 15:00:03 +0000 Max Wong 3840 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Potluck Parties That Help You Share the Wealth http://www.wisebread.com/5-potluck-parties-that-help-you-share-the-wealth <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-potluck-parties-that-help-you-share-the-wealth" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3924764461_010facf671.jpg" alt="potluck" title="potluck" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I love throwing parties. I love dressing up. I love cooking for an audience. I love spending time with old friends and meeting new ones. I love it. And to be perfectly honest, parties are really my only motivation for cleaning my house. So, to keep my tidy boyfriend happy and our home from looking like the residence of teenage squatters, I try and have at least one house party a month.</p> <p>Unfortunately for me, Halloween marks the beginning of Poverty Season, that glorious time of the year when both my car and home insurance premiums are due, which is bookended by my two heinous property tax payments, and includes four major holidays. That said, having no money has never kept me from having a good time. Over the years I've developed several potluck-style parties that are not only easy to tweak for just about any location or age group, but are beneficial to me, my friends and my community. Here are the five parties I'll be hosting between now and the New Year:</p> <h2>The Clothing Swap Party</h2> <p>This is the classic frugal party. The basic premise: Trade the clothes you are sick of wearing with your girlfriends. I try and make this party as much about girlie empowerment as it is about avoiding the mall. I only have three rules:</p> <ol> <li>No bartering or selling. It doesn't matter how much you paid for something. At the clothing swap it comes free, with no strings attached.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Be generous. Allow the extra big or extra tall or extra little ladies who have trouble finding clothes that fit on a regular basis to have first dibs on accessories like hand bags and scarves. If there are duplicate items don't hog them both.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't bring stinky clothes. Sadly, this isn't common sense for everyone.</li> </ol> <p>I like to throw this party in early November so people have an opportunity to find party clothes and gifts for free in advance of the holidays. This is also a terrific Mommy and Me event. Last year I collected over $1000 in baby clothes and supplies from one swap I attended with a lot of new mothers. I was able to outfit several friends' nurseries with crib linens, toys and clothes that they could have otherwise never afforded. One of my friends who lives in Upstate New York organized a hugely successful version of this party at her kids' grade school where everyone brought in their old winter coats they'd outgrown and &quot;shopped&quot; for new coats for the school year. I recently heard about a school district-wide prom dress swap that was organized by some clever moms in Minnesota.</p> <p>I serve fruit and cheese at this party, along with tea and coffee. Typically, my friends will show up bearing wine, fancy crackers, or a dessert without me having to ask them to. (They're good that way.)</p> <p>This party is always a cinch to clean up. In exchange for the tax write off donation receipt, one of my guests will usually volunteer to run the leftover clothes over to the battered women's shelter.</p> <h2>Game Day</h2> <p>Once a month, my boyfriend and I live without electricity for one day and invite the neighbors over for a low-fi evening of board games and homemade dessert. Enjoy the board game renaissance with games like Agricola, Carcassonne, and Hey! That's My Fish that can be played in about an hour, have the depth of Chess or Mah Jong and can be easily taught to kids and adults alike. As an added bonus, playing board games by candlelight makes Touch of Evil extra scary and Power Grid extra ironic.</p> <p>This October we're pulling out all our spooky games like Ghost Stories and Fury of Dracula and serving fun-sized candy bars and Mexican hot chocolate for dinner in honor of Halloween.</p> <h2>Thanksgiving Redux</h2> <p>Who doesn't overcook for this holiday? During the week following Turkey Day invite everyone over for a pot luck dinner of shared Thanksgiving leftovers. Last year the <a href="http://www.forbes.com/2008/11/18/thanksgiving-dinner-costs-forbeslife-cx_ls_1119food.html">average cost of a basic Thanksgiving dinner</a> for 10 people was $44.61. This did not include extra food or booze. By hosting Thanksgiving Dinner Part 2: Electric Boogaloo, you not only amortize the cost of the turkey and all the trimmings, but you also avoid eating the same leftovers for the next month, and you get help washing the dishes.</p> <p>As part of this year's Turkey Day festivities I am going to raffle off local honey and homemade preserves as a fundraiser for a <a href="http://www.heifer.org/site/c.edJRKQNiFiG/b.3978597/">Heifer International project</a> that will train farmers in Tanzania to farm fish and keep bees. It only takes $30 to buy a hive and train a beekeeper!</p> <h2>The Card Making Party</h2> <p>I love this party for many reasons. First and foremost because all the supplies for it fit into one flat rate mailing box that fits under my bed. It's like the one pot meal of craft parties. The second reason I love this party is because it costs next to nothing. In preparation for this party, I collect cool and free ephemera throughout the year. Doilies, maps, foreign language newspapers, leftover wallpaper, fortune cookie fortunes, old stamps, bar coasters, etc... all go into the one box for easy storage. Party guests bring a pair of scissors and personal items like photos or locks of hair. I supply the Freecycled glue, glitter and other doodads to add to the totally recycled paper supply. No crafting experience (or talent) is necessary to create personal collage-style holiday card masterpieces that would make <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=-uN7GStOj7AC&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;dq=griffin+and+sabine&amp;source=gbs_similarbooks_s&amp;cad=1#v=onepage&amp;q=&amp;f=false">Nick Bantock</a> proud.</p> <p>My favorite aspect of this party is how stuff can be taken from the waste stream and transformed into objects of beauty. This is a great way to reuse the envelopes that are enclosed with credit card offers, tiny bits of wrapping paper, and even food packaging. Many people are no longer sending holiday cards, due to financial and environmental costs, so handmade cards made from recycled materials provides a pretty and practical solution to both concerns.</p> <p>This party works for anyone old enough to use scissors without supervision. I roll out butcher paper on the living room floor for the workspace, which makes cleaning up a snap &mdash; just roll up the paper with the left over glitter and toss that into the recycling bin at the end of the party, or use it to start fires in the fireplace. Usable supplies go back into the storage box for next year.</p> <p>I like to combine this party with a cookie exchange where guests bring a batch of cookies to share. In addition to handmade cards, guests can also decorate boxes and paper bags they can package the cookies they get at the party as gifts. Here are a couple more links for crafty inspiration:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://katescreativekitchen.blogspot.com/2009/05/home-made-gift-bags.html">Home Made Gift Bags</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.undertheinkfluence.com/?p=391">Giftbags Galore Instructions</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.allfreecrafts.com/recycling-crafts/paper-bows.shtml">How to Make Recycled Wrapping Papyer Bows</a></li> <li><a href="http://rubberstamping.about.com/od/techniquesandtutorials/ss/Box.htm">How to Make a Paper Gift Box</a></li> </ul> <p>And let's not forget, that overachievers can get a head start on their Valentines.</p> <h2>The Book Exchange Party</h2> <p>Instead of throwing a New Years Eve party, which for most people is synonymous with expensive booze and snacks, I have a much thriftier New Years Day brunch instead. My boyfriend fires up &quot;Excalibur,&quot; his deep dish Belgian waffle iron, and makes his famously light and delicious zeppelin waffles. I make a gigantic cauldron of my mother's infamous spiced tea. We invite our favorite bookworms to clear their shelves of books (that they've loved but are now just taking up space) and bring them to our home. Everyone discards the books they don't want onto the communal pile and picks up new, free reading material. I donate leftover books, usually over a hundred, to the public library book drive.</p> <p>As part of their Earth Day event this year, a friend's Girl Scout troop organized a city-wide book swap for kids. This is obviously an easily hacked idea for any age group!</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by Max Wong, who blogs at <a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/">My Roman Apartment</a>. Read more by Max:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/why-100k/">Why 100k?</a></li> <li><a href="http://thescreentrade.blogspot.com/2008/01/striking-out-in-new-year.html">Striking Out in the New Year</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/gadzukes-10-ways-to-use-up-your-zucchini-bounty">Gadzukes! 10 Ways to Use Up Your Zucchini Bounty</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-potluck-parties-that-help-you-share-the-wealth">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thanksgiving-3-ways-this-thanksgiving-were-going-to-party-like-its-1621">Thanksgiving: 3 Ways (This Thanksgiving We&#039;re Going to Party Like It&#039;s 1621)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/in-times-like-these-separate-the-want-from-the-need">In times like these, separate the want from the need.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-rich-youd-be-if-you-stopped-drinking">Here&#039;s How Rich You&#039;d Be If You Stopped Drinking</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-restaurant-apps-hurt-your-wallet">5 Ways Restaurant Apps Hurt Your Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-water-can-save-you-977-a-year">How Water Can Save You $977 a Year</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Food and Drink affordable parties Thu, 29 Oct 2009 14:00:03 +0000 Max Wong 3771 at http://www.wisebread.com